True Detective: Night Country review: Jodie Foster brings series back to life in this haunting Alaska horror

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True Detective season 4 is best described as if Fargo and The Thing had a baby

It's been 10 years since True Detective first dropped on our screens, and maybe that's how long it took for the series to finally come home to its gritty, grisly roots.

When True Detective first came on the scene in 2014 we were gripped. Written by Nic Pizzolatto and starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, it was set in the Louisiana Bayou and followed the tale of a horrific murder committed by the terrifying villain, the Yellow King.

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Awards soon followed, but season 2 which was released in 2015 and starred Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams failed to live up to the hype. Season 3 followed four years later in 2019 and despite starring Mahershala Ali and being influenced by the story of the West Memphis Three, it failed to make a lasting impression.

Enter True Detective: Night Country. The fourth season has hit the reset button. Grisly murders - check, bleak landscapes - check, mystical symbols and troubled lead detectives - check, check, check and check. This is True Detective at its most gnarly, described best as if Fargo and The Thing had a baby.

True Detective returns for season 4 set in Alaska (Photo: HBO)True Detective returns for season 4 set in Alaska (Photo: HBO)
True Detective returns for season 4 set in Alaska (Photo: HBO) | © 2023 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved. HBO® and all related programs are the property of Home Box Office, Inc.

Set in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska, just before Christmas as the long Polar night has set in, there's a lot to pack in in just six episodes and it feels as if we get up close and personal with the entire population of the remote mining town of Ennis.

The story begins on a cold December night, Chief of Police, Liz Danvers played by Jodie Foster is called to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a group of eight male scientists from the Tsalal Artic Research Centre. The only piece of physical evidence left behind hints at a gruesome link to an unsolved murder.

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Foster fully embodies Ennis' deplorable Chief of Police. When she's not being hated by literally everyone in town, or making racist remarks to State Trooper Evangeline Navarro about "spirit animals", she's stopping her step-daughter Leah (Isabella Star LeBlanc) from exploring her roots or ordering around state trooper Peter Prior (Finn Bennett). We do get small glimpses of who she used to be, moments of joyful dancing in a past life, along with her frustrations about the "promotion" that sent her to this isolated mining town.

Navarro is played by former boxer Kali Reis. A member of the Iñupiaq community, her determination to solve the murder case of local midwife and activist Annie K. leaves her consumed and left with no option than to work with Danvers, despite her volatile personality. Like True Detective season one, they are an unmatched pair, who consistently butt heads and have an underlying aurora of distrust and disgust.

There is more emphasis on the horror element, with a crime wall that even Rust Spencer would be proud of. One of the most intriguing characters who caught my attention was Rose (Fiona Shaw), a reclusive figure whose visions from her dead lover help her stumble across a grisly scene. Ghosts are a prominent theme throughout, whether in the spiritual sense or in the misty interpretation of the perpetual gloom of the Arctic winter.

True Detective season 4 is the franchise back at its finest. Always keeping us guessing, whilst we stare into the bleakness and wait for the next revelation from the cold Arctic gloom. Time is indeed a flat circle, and the Night Country has been 10 years well worth waiting for.

True Detective: Night Country premieres on Sky Atlantic on Monday, 15 January. Episode 1 is available to watch at either 2.05am or 9pm.

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